Pope Francis expressed regret today for the “desperate” situation in Gaza and called for “a humanitarian disaster to be avoided”, while calling on the faithful to take “only one side” in the Israel-Hamas conflict, “that of peace”.

“Casualties are increasing and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please do everything possible to avoid a humanitarian disaster,” he stressed.

Addressing worshipers in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff did not directly address the attack on a hospital in Gaza, blamed on each other by Israel and the Palestinians, which killed hundreds of Palestinians and sparked outrage across the Muslim world.

“The potential expansion of the conflict is worrying, at a time when there are already many conflicts in the world. The guns should be silenced, the cry for peace of the poor, the people, the children should be heard,” he added.

“War does not solve any problem, it only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future,” he noted.

“I call on believers to take only one side in this conflict, that of peace,” he added.

Pope Francis appealed for all possible efforts to be made “to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe” and noted that he will lead a special prayer for peace in St. Peter’s Basilica at 18:00 (19:00 Greek time) on October 27.

This day will be “a day of fasting, prayer, repentance”, he noted and invited all Christians, believers of other religions and those who care about peace in the world to participate.